Alabama public health officials have reiterated their contention that the Memorial Day holiday three weeks ago contributed to a spike that has added almost 12,000 new COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Karen Landers, the assistant state health officer, told FOX10 News that the increase is not connected to any specific, large-scale celebration.
“We’re not really tying this to, again, an overall large gathering but rather, individual patients that gathered with families or friends during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and have subsequently had some cases of COVID-19 as a result of that,” she said.
Rendi Murphree, the top epidemiologist at the Mobile County Health Department, told reporters Tuesday that the department had not linked the local increase in cases to the holiday.
“We did not see a large spike in cases related to Memorial Day,” she said. “Memorial Day, I believe was the 25th, and, for the two weeks after that date, we saw about the same number of cases week over week.”
There is no question that the novel coronavirus is surging in Alabama, with hospitalizations setting a record on Tuesday.
In the 23 days following Memorial Day, Alabama recorded 11,928 new cases. That’s a 65 percent increase over the previous 23-day period – an acceleration of the 52 percent increase over the 22-day period before that.
Landers agreed many factors are at work.
“Right at the moment, the numbers that we are seeing in the state of Alabama are of great concern to me as a physician,” she said.
Landers said the only way to keep the virus in check is by remaining vigilant when it comes to wearing masks, washing hands and keeping physical distance from other people.
“We need to follow the social distancing,” she said. “We need to follow the respiratory hygiene, including good hand-washing and hand-sanitizing. And we need to be using a cloth face covering in public.”
Dr. Don Williamson, the president and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association, told FOX10 News that he worries about the long-term trend. He noted that intensive care units are scarce even though regular hospital operations have not completely returned to normal following restrictions on elective surgeries.
“We talk about a second wave,” he said. “Well, you can’t get to a second wave until you get out of the first wave. And we are certainly, as a state, not out of the first wave.”